The Warriors' New Zealand international Shaun Johnson.
The Warriors' New Zealand international Shaun Johnson. DAVID ROWLAND

Kidwell keeps faith with Kiwis team

KIWIS halfback Shaun Johnson had some fighting words ahead of Sunday morning's Four Nations opener against hosts England.

Johnson told Radio Sport that if any English players tried to disrupt his game, "they'll get one on the chin”. Johnson quickly revealed he was only joking.

"We've been building all week to play a certain way so that's what we want to go out and execute. And, look, if they want to muck around with that sort of stuff, especially if they want to try and pick on me, then I'll get one on their chin and move on,” Johnson said.

"Can I just take that back? I'm a halfback and I would never do that,” he quickly added.

Johnson will start in the No.7 jersey on Sunday alongside Warriors teammate Thomas Leuluai, with coach David Kidwell keeping his faith with the team that suffered a 26-6 defeat by Australia in Perth.

Warriors centre Solomone Kata and Canberra winger Jordan Rapana retained their spots after making their Test debuts in Perth a fortnight ago..

"I'm really happy with how the boys have trained,” said Kidwell, who will be taking charge of his second match. "We understand the challenge that's ahead of us and we need to be at our best.

"In Perth, a lot of our guys hadn't played for a long period of time. The result wasn't what we wanted but all the players were better off for the run and we will look to build from that.”

The return of Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves has added a tough exterior to the Kiwis pack, which Kidwell is hoping can contain an England side boosted by the return of Sam and George Burgess.

"It's no secret this game is going to be won up front,” Kidwell said.

"Both teams have strong forward packs and we need our middle men to lead the way.”

England has made four changes for the Test in Huddersfield, with centre Mark Percival and prop Scott Taylor not required from the side that beat France easily last weekend. Five-eighth Kevin Brown and utility Stefan Ratchford have also been discarded.

Sam Burgess has been named for his first Test in three years and first as captain after being suspended last weekend.



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